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Oil spills and human health

NEWS
Oil spills and human health

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Earth

••• Seventy-one people in Louisiana have suffered health problems that officials believe are linked to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the state’s department of health and hospitals said on Wednesday.

Fifty of those who have reported symptoms including throat irritation, cough, shortness of breath, eye irritation, nausea, chest pain and headaches, worked on oil rigs or were part of the effort to clean up the spill.

Thirty of the workers said their illness came on after they were exposed to emulsified oil and dispersant, said the report, which is updated weekly.

Eight people – all of them rig or clean-up workers – have been hospitalised with spill-related illnesses, the report said.
All hospitalisations were short, generally one day, it said.

Twenty-one reports of illness came from members of the general public and were overwhelmingly related to odors from the oil spill.

Most of the members of the public who reported symptoms were at home when they fell ill, the report shows.

The most common symptom associated with the spill was headache, followed by nausea, cough and throat irritation.

The Louisiana state health authority began gathering reports of human exposures to oil from the slick or chemicals used to disperse it four weeks after the April 20 explosion on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon that caused the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The report was compiled using data gathered from emergency departments, outpatient clinics, doctors’ offices and the Louisiana poison control centre.
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